Big thanks to Colin Cavanah from @Daletrust for taking the time to answer some questions to preview the game at Spotland Stadium on Saturday.
Keith Hill was sacked last month after a six-year spell with the club, what was the overall feeling towards the decision?
Overall the fans were split. I think overall most fans would have agreed that he’d have been sacked at any other club, especially after January when we were the division’s whipping boys by a long way. But over the years, the success that he has brought the club was unprecedented and for many, myself included, that was enough to justify giving him another crack at it even if we went down.
Brian Barry-Murphy, has just gone from caretaker boss to permanent manager, how did this decision go down?
Fans were generally pleased. One or two have mentioned him being the cheap option given he’s been promoted from within, but surely the cheap option was sticking with Keith Hill in the first place. He’s done alright in the first few games with more points in the last four games than Keith Hill had picked up in his last dozen. There seems to be a touch more positivity about the place under BBM.
You’ve put a decent run together under your new boss and are unbeaten in the last four, how confident are you that you can beat the drop?
I wouldn’t say confident at all. Odds are against us and we’re under no illusions regarding that. I think nine points will be enough despite our goal difference. Our remaining games has more than three winnable games left but those winnable games have never been our strong point.
What were the expectations for yourselves at the start of the season?
After a dip last season, hopes were high as to this season. I don’t think anyone had the delusions to think we would make the Play Offs, but we expected better than to have everything come down to the last game of the season again. From last season’s 20th placed finish, midtable would have seen as being progress.
What sort of formation and style of play would you say Rochdale usually play?
We try and play a passing game, but formation can change from game to game. Sometimes it’s a straight back four, whilst other games we go with three central defenders.
Who should the Sunderland fans watch out for in the Rochdale line-up and why?
Our key many is Ian Henderson. We picked him up for nothing from Colchester six years ago when they didn’t want him, and he’s become one of the greatest players in the club’s history. He’s got 18 goals so far this season, and he’s one of the UK’s leading Herbalife salesmen in his spare time. He’ll cover more distance than anyone on the pitch on Saturday
On of the Sunderland team who are you not looking forward to playing against?
Hard to say, looking at Soccerbase you seem to have around 50 players in your squad so it’s hard to narrow it down.
A lot of teams seem to up their game when they play us and see us a scalp, do you believe the Dale players will feel similar?
I guess so. Should be a decent crowd inside the ground which always adds to the occasion.
For the travelling away fans do you have any tips for them on a match day i.e. pubs, parking and the facilities?
There’s a Chippy right across the road from the away turnstiles. I dare say the queues will be lengthy but its as good as any you’ll have had. Just don’t try taking them into the game. Pubs wise, you’ll be well served. The town centre has improved in the past 3 or 4 years with a couple of Camra award winning pubs in the Flying Horse and the Baum. Nearer the ground, the Cem is a great pub and will offer 20p off a pint if you show your Sunderland season ticket.
Finally, how do you see the game going, and what score do you think will be?
Would gladly take a point right now. Just hoping that the trips to Wembley and Accrington have taken it out of your team.